A police officer went to the home of a Southbridge Middle/High School student Thursday to hand-deliver an expulsion letter that said he had cyber-bullied his English teacher.
The messages were “highly inappropriate” and “sexually derogatory and sexually threatening,” the expulsion letter said.
The student, Christopher Latour, 18, is a senior at the school. Mr. Latour said in an interview he created a spoof Web portal that he said “snowballed” into a forum for others to lash out at his English teacher.
Mr. Latour was found to have violated district Internet use and bullying rules, according to the expulsion letter written by Amy B. Allen, a district administrator who served as hearing officer for his Nov. 20 hearing.
Mr. Latour admitted he shared a pass code for others to access a school website on which the teacher was bullied, but he said he had nothing to do with the content of the anonymous messages.
After consulting with the district’s lawyer, Acting Superintendent Terry Wiggin declined comment.
Attempts to reach the teacher were unsuccessful.
Mr. Latour posted on an anonymous, Web-based message board called 4Chan.org the password to a school-based website created by his English teacher. This essentially allowed anyone to post to the school-based site, which is called Edmodo, the expulsion letter said.
Ms. Allen’s letter said Mr. Latour caused a situation that created a hostile environment for his teacher, who suffered undue stress and emotional harm for which she has been under the care of a doctor.
The expelled student said others were only supposed to post funny pictures, but an unknown “third party took it to a different level of inappropriateness.”
He added that people somehow found the teacher’s Facebook page and sexually harassed her.
Mr. Latour said his only commentary on the website was, “What’s up.”
However, the expulsion letter noted that the district’s Acceptable Use Policy says, “Sharing passwords can result in sharing consequences. All violations of this policy that can be traced to an individual account name will be treated as the sole responsibility of the owner of that account.”
Initially, the administration suspended Mr. Latour for 10 school days, from Nov. 5-19.
Police interviewed Mr. Latour Oct. 31, but have not issued criminal charges against him “at this time,” according to Detective Sgt. Carlos Dingui, who said the case is under investigation.
The expulsion letter said Mr. Latour was not forthcoming about his actions.
The administration also said it was troubling that once Mr. Latour became aware of the inappropriate messages, he deliberately chose not to notify anyone because he did not think the district would be able to trace the creation of the portal to him, and he wanted to “distance himself from all responsibility.” The letter also said he lacked remorse.
But Mr. Latour said he apologized several times.
In addition, he said he went back to the spoof website and tried removing the post he made containing the pass code to the school website. But he couldn’t find the post.
Mr. Latour said he has no problem being removed from the teacher’s class, and he noted that the student-parent handbook dictates that the maximum penalty for violating the Accepted Use Policy is a loss of Internet privileges.
“I have no issue with doing that (relinquishing Internet privileges) because I realize what I did,” he said.
Asked about returning to school without distraction, given the notoriety, he acknowledged it would be “a little more difficult.” But a desire to get his diploma and college degree would push him, he said.
Mr. Latour said he’s never had previous issues with teachers, and he described the teacher as a good educator.
According to a copy of his midcycle report in October, the teacher gave him a score of 87 in the honors course, and commented, “Does good work. Works well independently.”
“That’s why I have no reason to go after her” on the Internet, he said.